New Mexico State University (NMSU) alum and former director and chief executive officer of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Dan Arvizu, was named New Mexico State University’s new chancellor.
John Floros, dean of the Kansas State University agriculture college and K-State Cooperative Extension, was named president of NMSU.
The pair will succeed current chancellor, Garrey Carruthers, splitting the duties and responsibilities between two roles, a model some peer institutions use. The announcement was made Friday afternoon following a regents meeting on campus.
“We’re bringing an Aggie home,” Regents President Debra Hicks said of Arvizu. His contract begins May 21; he becomes chancellor on June 1.
“I’m immensely proud as an Aggie to be coming home,” Arvizu said.
Floros was not present, but sent a statement through Arvizu.
“I am deeply honored and delighted to be given this honor by the board of regents,” Floros said.
DAN ARVIZU, CHANCELLOR
Dan Arvizu, Ph.D., comes to New Mexico State University from his post as senior advisor to the Emerson Elemental practice of Emerson Collective, a nonprofit based in Palo Alto, California. He previously served Emerson as chief technology officer and STEM evangelist, according to chancellorsearch.nmsu.edu.
Arvizu spent 21 years at Sandia National Laboratories, including 14 years in executive positions. He was named director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, in 2005, becoming the first Hispanic lab director in the history of any of the 17 U.S. DOE’s national labs. Arvizu also served 12 years as a member the National Science Board.
Arvizu grew up in Alamogordo and graduated from NMSU with a BS in mechanical engineering. He has a masters’ and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
From “humble beginnings,” Arvizu said he was the first in his family to attend college. Part of an immigrant family, Arvizu said he has family on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I feel like I’m coming home,” Arvizu said at his May 2 public appearance. “I’m an Aggie. I’ve always been an Aggie. I always will be an Aggie. NMSU gave me the foundation and the opportunity I needed to be successful.”
“I bring global perspective,” he said. “I have lived the American Dream. I see plenty of opportunity to make a difference.”
Partly because his first college class was on the NMSU-Alamogordo campus, Arvizu said he recognizes that NMSU’s community colleges are an incredibly important part of the university.
“I see this as a network,” he said.
Arvizu said he wants to “develop a platform on which we can touch many more people who might not otherwise have access to higher education.”
As funding from state and federal sources declines, developing new sources of revenue will be critical for the next NMSU chancellor, he said, including philanthropy, corporate investment and the private sector.
His work with national and state legislators helped attract $500 million in new money to the National Renewable Energy Lab, he said.
The key to successful fundraising, he said, is to recognize the sources of funding.
NMSU should help “change the narrative of what it takes to make a healthy border,” he said.
Economic development is the biggest driver of a healthy border, he said, and NMSU should lead that process.
Arvizu said NMSU must be student-centered, with a focus on student retention, tracking student success at the university and in the marketplace, tutoring and counseling.
The student experience is a central part of NMSU’s mission, he said.
“I think we can probably do more,” he said.
Within the NMSU faculty, Arvizu believes it’s important to encourage idea generation and to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration, innovation and partnerships to enhance problem solving.
Because he is from the area, Arvizu said he understands the local culture. His experience in the federal government and private sector can help NMSU achieve even better outcomes, Arvizu said.
JOHN D. FLOROS, PRESIDENT
John D. Floros, Ph.D., has been dean of the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University and director of K-State Research and Extension since July 2012. Niche ranked K-State’s College of Agriculture fourth in the nation in 2017, according to chancellorsearch.nmsu.edu.
Floros served as professor and head of the department of food science at Penn State from 2000-12. He served as a professor at Purdue University, 1988-2000, and worked as an international industry consultant for more than 30 years. He earned his Ph.D. in food science and technology from the University of Georgia.
A native of Greece, Floros came to the United States in his mid-20s, he said at his April 23 public forum.
“I came from a very meager beginning. We took care of ourselves. I worked my way through school,” he said, adding that his sons still sometimes correct his English. “I can understand a lot of the problems students have.”
At K-State, Floros said he set a 12-year plan to increase student enrollment and student success.
“We have accomplished every single one of these projects in six years, not 12. My job there is done. I feel I’m ready for this job,” he said of the NMSU chancellorship.
Floros said he was attracted to the position because NMSU is a land-grant university and Hispanic-serving institution.
“I want to give back to the system that gave a lot to me. I want to maintain the momentum that you’ve started (and) introduce some changes to make it better. These things that you need at this university I have done before,” including fundraising, diversification and student success.
To increase enrollment at K-State, Floros said he helped boost out-of-state and international recruiting and the same could work for NMSU.
To help more students graduate from NMSU, he said, “We need to figure out what they need to do to succeed,” and also help them find jobs after graduation.
Floros said the NMSU main campus and its four community colleges are “all very much connected. We have to find a way to raise all boats” to drive development, create jobs and ensure student success.
At K-State, Floros said he worked with depressed communities to overcome obstacles and help their students succeed, so he understands the economically disadvantaged borderland region served by NMSU.
“I believe in people,” Floros said.
Regarding fundraising, Floros said he helped triple philanthropic giving to the K-State College of Agriculture, which he said was $3-$5 million when he started in 2012 and was $20 million last year and will be $30 million this year.
“You have to involve a lot of people. It’s a whole system. It’s a whole process,” he said.
“(Renewable energy is) the future,” Floros said. “We’re all moving toward a sustainable planet. As a university, we need to drive that car.”
Floros’ research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASA, state agencies and private industry, according to NMSU.